Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: De-programing Gitmo grads

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    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    De-programing Gitmo grads

    1. The Counseling Program for Saudi Security Prisoners

    For the past two years, the Saudi Interior Ministry has been implementing a counseling program for security prisoners in the Saudi jails, intended to encourage prisoners to renounce their extremist beliefs. Up until six months ago, the existence of the counseling project was kept a secret so that "it would bear fruit far from the [eye] of the media." [1]

    According to the head of the counseling committee, Dr. Saud Al-Musaybih, the committee "includes more than 100 ulema and fuqaha and some 30 psychiatrists and psychologists, who are divided among the various districts in the kingdom." He also said that, in addition to counseling sessions with the prisoners, the committee also holds religion classes, with "20-25 participants in each class who study concepts such as al-walaa wal barraa, [2] takfir, and [other] issues that concern them."

    Al-Musaybih added that, at first, "a large percentage [of the prisoners] refused to meet with the fuqaha, [but in time] they began to ask for meetings on their own initiative..." Today, "the committees are achieving a high rate of compliance amongst the prisoners." [3]

    In the past six months, the Saudi Interior Ministry released more than 400 security prisoners based on the assessment of the program counselors, after becoming convinced that they had renounced their extremist views. None of the freed prisoners were planners of terror operations who were under interrogation or standing trial.

    According to Interior Minister Prince Na'if bin Abd Al-Aziz, "the heads of the program assess that it has had a positive impact on the prisoners' tendencies, and that there is evidence that they admit their error and want to repent." [4]

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